Exhibition from 2013 featuring representations of works by the artist Konstantin Konenko, a short biography on Konenko, and more.


Excerpt from the introduction to the exhibition:


Cover of publication containing texts and images from the exhibition

Konstantin Konenko is a name that will ring few bells, if any at all. Those who knew him personally may all have perished by now, and his work as an artist is known only to a handful of people. Konenko counts among those very many artists who are never very well known, whom we almost or completely forget, and whose oeuvre, as, or if at all, it is preserved, says nothing about the artist’s actual work when he was still breathing.


There is a very good reason, however, why Konenko is largely excluded from our memory of art, and it is not, simply, that his work was deemed irrelevant for canonisation; even if anyone wanted to preserve knowledge of Konenko and his work it would prove a severe challenge as he never actually produced anything for the future to remember. Rather than shaping physical objects to produce artworks, Konenko worked only within his mind, confining the sole medium of his artistic practice to the material of dreams.

SPACE WHALE


A sound sculpture of enormous proportions in the shape of a space whale. The galactic orbit of this majestic nomad takes it from one end of the Milky Way to the other, while, at regular intervals, speakers located in the mechanical thorax of the whale emit an extremely high-pitched song, the solitary beauty of which entices art entusiastic space-farers across the galaxy to pursue the artificial creature. As a preliminary study for this work, Konenko had assumed the form of an orphan humpback calf whose cry for his mother served as the basis for the final song.

THE STELLAR LUNAPOLIS MOSAIC SATELLITE


In this early work, Konenko created a great glass mosaic of Lunapolis, the utopian city of the moon. As the mosaic orbits the sun in such a manner that it always directly faces the moon, the photorealistic satellitic map formed by the total of individual glass shards is projected onto its surface, offering people on Earth an opportunity to gaze at their future home before the actual construction of Lunapolis. Konenko originally intended to create a series of these mosaics – one for each moon in our solar system – but found that the labour of arranging the many duotrigintillions of glass shards required for each mosaic was too irksome.


Below follows an overview of Konenko’s works with texts and images from the exhibition.

ASTRALISH

and the

COSMIC CONVERSATION of the STARS


By apprehending the language of the stars in the sense of semantic sequences of UV radiation intensities measured in units of milliwatts per square centimeter, Konenko was able to make a verbal translation of a fragment of the conversation of the stars. Though their pronounciation of each single syllable was excruciatingly slow, Konenko managed to gather that they had just returned to one of their favourite topics, namely the origin of the universe, but from the abstractness of their sentences and the general incoherence of the conversation he decided that they must have deteriorated somewhat during the course of their 13 billion years long conversation. Later, Konenko also tried to translate the light reflecting from his teakettle and was pleased to find that it was very slowly humming a song about its delight in its most kind owner.

The Artworks Dreamed by Konstantin Konenko

THE TRANQUIL EYE of the PARA-DIMENSIONAL RIFT, CONTAINING the SANCTUARY of EARTH and SPACE APPRECIATION


Atop a mountain stands a holy tree, at the base of which those who wish to pay tribute to the profound relationship between the Earth and outer space may do so undisturbed by the tumultuous circumstances of life and the human psyche. Konenko made a comparison (which he felt was unworthy) of these circumstances to a great storm, which represents the outer para-dimensional rift, at the center of which sits the tranquil eye of ”the storm”. This eye houses The Sanctuary of Earth and Space Appreciation where people may come to pay tribute, and it can be accessed at any point in time and space by those who are sufficiently at peace with their own role in the cosmic perspective. Konenko’s feelings about this work were greatly ambivalent: on one hand he was grateful for his discovery of The Sanctuary and the opportunity it provided him to contemplate his cosmic meaning – not least in the sense of his insignificance – but at the same time he was uncertain that the entire Sanctuary was not his own creation. This doubt, and the guilt that followed his incapacity to simply reject or ignore the possibility of his total authorship, became a source of growing frustration, and eventually Konenko lost the ability to visit The Sanctuary.

THE TERRA MIRROR


A giant mirror orbits the Earth at such an angle that half of the planet and its inhabitants can see themselves reflected at all times. While Konenko was always devoutly enthusiatic about the prospect of space ventures, many of his works, and in particular The Terra Mirror, reflect his attitude, whether it was concious or not, that the journey into space and the pursuit of its bounties should be taken with caution and should not compromise one’s on-Earth self-reflection.

THE MUSEUM of the WORLD


In anticipation of the extra-terrestrial future of humanity, Konenko conceived of The Museum of the World, an artificial planet designed to preserve our accumulated terrestrial heritage, which he considered would be most valuable to the maturing of our new identities as extra-terrestrial beings. In the tradition of living history museums, the aim of The Museum of the World is to provide its visitors with an immersive simulation of history, complete with staff in period costumes who reenact both the everyday life and key historical events of our past on Earth. However, as The Museum of the World is intended to simultaneously display all of the terrestrial history of humankind, visitors will notice that its size and proportions are somewhat different to those of the Earth.

DAY of the DOG


This serial work consists of a number of recurring dreams, all of which follow the same basic structure. At the start of each dream, Konenko wakes up to a dawn lit by the double suns of Sirius, as a canine citizen of the Planet of the Dogs. During the course of the day, he and his pack engage in various shared activities such as playing, sniffing, and hunting for prey. Later, as dusk approaches, they all join up with many other packs to howl contemplatively at distant stars. While all of this takes place, Konenko has no recollection of anyone by the name of Konenko; to himself and to his fellow canines he is known only as Little Curly, a mongrel of a possible part-husky, part-terrier mix. The work ends when, at the end of the day, Little Curly falls asleep and, simultaneously, Konenko wakes up, back to his human self.

THE MARS WONDER


Knowing that the curiosity of humankind would eventually, and inevitably, lead it to explore celestial bodies beyond our moon, Konenko prepared a delightful surprise for the first human visitors to the red planet, Mars. Nestled deeply within the Gale Crater, it eagerly waits to be discovered.

AQUARIA, THE WATER PLANET


A spherical body of water – of planetary dimensions. Typical of Konenko’s nightmare periods, this work has a particularly high level of performativity: in the work, Konenko is instantly removed from one of his daily scenes and released high in the atmosphere of Aquaria. He plummets into its waters and desperately struggles towards the surface. A sun illuminates the planet, which, in all its transparency, is shown to consist only of water. Realizing that there is no land to swim to, Konenko can only attempt to keep himself afloat while the gravitational pull of the planet forces him towards its center. The work concludes at the point of Konenko’s total exhaustion.

DREAM HORN


A horn that bestows great oneiric powers on whoever wears it. Using its piercing tip, the horned dreamer can easily penetrate through the layers of the mind and of time and space, enabling him or her to access any desired location, both psychological and real. If the dreamer should encounter other intelligent beings while wearing the horn, he or she will appear to them as a magnificent beast whose intentions are unpredictable and may equally be diplomatic, destructive, or indifferent.

THE UN-TERRESTRIAL TEA ROOM


A work in which tea and pastries are consumed under seemingly normal circumstances; there is agreeable company, the atmosphere is relaxed and the conversation is easy – it is a chance to catch a break from your everyday hassles. In the back of the head of each guest present, however, a notion repeatedly asserts, with greater and greater clarity, that the regular surrounding environment of the tea room is gone from existence, that the room has been displaced and is really drifting around somewhere in the vastness of space. The experience of the artwork may differ greatly from guest to guest depending on the level of their cosmic maturity; some will likely panic, others might be surprised to find that they welcome the change of scenery or that they are able to bear the prospect of the prolonged company of their fellow tea drinkers.


View of the entrance to the exhibition about Konstantin Konenko. By the entrance a few other items were shown


An overview of future exhibitions and publications


A figure of a tardigrade (also called a waterbear) in a dome vitrine